What Happened?

      12 Comments on What Happened?

Let’s do a little time travel.

It was the summer of 2013 and I was looking for a project. My absolute number one priority was a sensible QUIET horse with what many refer to as a “good brain”.

I’m notorious for choosing ATHLETIC but crazy, and decided I needed to change my ways.

It was time to turn the tables on my Bad horse choices. I wasn’t looking for an advanced horse. I just needed SOMETHING to ride.

I was horseless at the time, and the pig was tired of me. See the details here.

I tried a few potential “projects” who were lovely, athletic, and C R A Z Y. One in particular bucked all the way across the arena with the seller, moments after she told me the horse had never bucked. That filly was a flashy chestnut, with a lovely face and an even lovelier trot, but she was scared of her own shadow, had been in a top notch program for a year and was still hot Hot HOT.

I almost felt guilty passing on her, because I think I could have made her life better. BUT, I was determined to find the RIGHT horse, and “scared and hot” were not in the description.

So I searched the world over, and very proudly brought home “the QUIETEST off the track Thoroughbred” I’ve ever seen.

I won’t lie, I bragged about my find A LOT.

The first time I turned him out in the pasture, he stood quietly, napped a little and then very slowly walked around checking things out. No running, no snorting, no shenanigans. And Bad Eventer thought, “He’s super smart! What great self preservation. I sure did WELL with this one!!”

When I brought him up to be saddled he would prop his chin on the hitching rail and sleep.

Ok, I actually found THAT a little unsettling. “My horse is sleeping when he’s being saddled………Is he sick?”

I took his temperature, I listened to his heart, I checked his blood counts.  I dewormed him.

Nope not sick.

The first time I rode him in my big arena, I stepped off to set some jumps and he dropped his head and napped while I moved jumps.

I remember thinking what an amazing quiet guy I had gotten. He already knows how to ground tie, IN A NEW PLACE!!!! This is fantastic!

Around the same time a friend had purchased another OTTB the same age, who was anything BUT quiet……………


and I remember talking to her about finding one MORE LIKE MINE!!

I hauled him to his first cross country schooling, and he loped over all the new jumps like a hunter. He never looked at anything, and never put a foot wrong.

I made his picture my Facebook cover………….I was so proud of MYSELF!!!! I had found the horse of a lifetime.

About 3 weeks into my new found ownership I was walking the path from the barn to the arena on a long rein……. on the path that we’d ridden every day for 3 weeks………

with a friend on another horse………….and out of no where he SPOOKED.

And it was a BIG spook.



And then things changed…………….


We hauled back to the cross country course we had schooled at the first time. The very same place where he had been a total rock star……… As I unloaded him he became a grand prix dressage horse.

I remember WELL him piaffe-ing and passage -ing around me in a circle as I tried to saddle him by the horse trailer. What had happened to the horse that SLEPT while he was being tacked up?


It was a VERY exciting schooling day………………

I went home, and racked my brain………….what had happened to the quiet, SUPER quiet horse I had purchased?

I took him down to the arena, the same arena he had napped in the first time when I turned him loose………and this is what happened when I turned him loose to set jumps again.

For the record, the jump chute was entirely HIS idea.

No one involved will ever forget our first recognized show………………..these photos have become pretty infamous.

I reviewed my program……….. we visited the saddle fitter…………he went to the vet where his smallest possible ache or pain was relieved…………

He’s ridden 6 days per week, 2 flat days, 2 jump schools, 1 hack day, 1 trot day……….We lesson regularly………..And I couldn’t figure out what on earth had happened so I decided to start  over from scratch.

Out came the tarps………….

and the plastic bags…………………

It became Back to Basics Boot Camp…………………..

And now 18 months later….we’re making some good progress…….getting around at the events without the High-Ho-Silver moves…………………

And while he didn’t turn out to be the super quiet horse I was looking for…………..
 …………he’s talented and fancy, and I LOVE him.


Out of the blue I get this message:

 “I’m very saddened to read about him. I honestly can’t believe he’s the same horse we had…..If you are uncomfortable with him we would be happy to take him back………I have complete faith in him becoming the horse that he once was in our program.”


I guess Tales from a Bad Eventer needs a disclaimer…………….

But I had to rack my brain…………could my program really be that different? Did I create a spooky dragon out of the calmest non-spooky horse in the world?

Was it that he was skinny? wormy? weak?

Did Bad Eventer create a monster?………………. 


Perhaps he just found his chance to express himself?

What do you think?




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12 thoughts on “What Happened?

  1. Bakersfield Dressage

    Oh my God you are telling my story. My last TWO horses had this same outcome!!!!!!! I have only had the second one for two months, but still. I wish I had an answer, but I suspect he sort of "woke up" to his real life, and his real personality showed through. Someone once told me those first few quiet weeks/rides are "borrowed rides."

    I think the only way to get a quiet horse with a good mind is to spend a bazillion dollars for a "made" horse. Since I don't have a bazillion dollars, I keep plugging away at young prospects hoping I can ride one long enough to turn him into a made horse. I've been working on my Arab for 7 years, and he is finally "there." Now I am working on my 6 year old Zweibrücker. I sure hope it doesn't take him 7 years to figure it out. :0)

  2. Shauna

    In my admittedly limited experience, a lot can be said for nutrition and sore feet. He looks like he has picked up a ton of muscle and condition from when you purchased him. Also, in the June 2013 round pen picture, he looks a little ouchy. Sometimes when they are really feeling good, a whole new personality emerges.

  3. Nicole Sharpe

    Kinda happened to mine too, after about four months of riding. He went from quiet and submissive under saddle (always a little spooky on the ground) to BUCKING and kicking and squealing and letting me know that I was not the boss of him and he would roll in the sand if he darn well felt like it!!!!!! Fortunately not spooky, just extremely opinionated. I still need to go back to basics and do tarps and hoops with him, but we at least have gotten the under saddle stuff under control. 😉

  4. emma

    he's such a lovely horse – and it certainly seems like your efforts and work are helping him perform to his best ability (rather than sleeping through the show…). i'd be annoyed at that email too tho…

  5. ~ Amanda ~

    Seriously, you are doing a great job. I purchased a 5 year old warmblood two years ago. He'd been pampered in a fancy barn and all his owner had done with him was take him in lead line classes. He'd never put a foot wrong. I bought him, put a saddle on him and….DREAM HORSE! He was a brilliant angel for the first three weeks….then hell horse came out. Turned out to be the biggest bronc I've ever had. Two years into him, he's the best horse ever. I love him to pieces – he's still crazy hot and does the nuttiest things on occasion – but I think young horses really do have developing personalities and all sorts of things can come out in their first years under saddle. Looks to me like you are doing a fabulous job with your horses! And yeah…reading the article, my first thought was that your horse was drugged when you bought him…

  6. SddlFttr

    I cant imagine Bad Eventer not thinking the dooping thing already but that was my first thought to. Although I had the same situation with my OTTB. He was great until he put on weight and muscle…and got my number :s…then it was all downhill from there.

    1. canreffy

      Yup – my diagnosis is that he was on a long-acting tranquillizer. I went through the same story with a Paso Fino mare (okay, not eventing – I'm just Bad Rider!) For the first three weeks or so, butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. Then she fell apart. Saddling and mounting was like the Wild Horse Race at the Calgary Stampede, and she was so barn sour – no, barn panicked – that she was impossible to ride even in the arena that was only a few yards from the barn. Hacking out? Impossible. At pasture, she'd run the fence all day long, and when brought in, collapse in her stall for 15 minutes before tackling her grain. Of course, I had no proof that she had been drugged, but I recall thinking it odd that after I tried her out, and said that I'd have to think about buying, the seller suddenly looked anxious and blurted, "You're not taking her today??" I thought she was just being naïve, inasmuch as I obviously didn't have a truck and trailer with me. But that was the clue… On receiving her papers later, I saw that she had been sold on every two years all her life (she was 12), as one owner after another threw in the towel. After a few years of struggling, I retired her to a small Paso breeding farm, where her barn panic caught up with her. Sad to say, after only a few weeks there. she made a run for the barn and clotheslined herself on a rope gate the barn owner had up for the few minutes that she spent picking up the paddock. So sad – good breeding, very nice natural gait, and a pretty little thing, but done in by the anxiety that I later found out ran in her whole bloodline. And I am 99 and 4 one hundreds percent sure that she had been drugged.

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